My first goals as a writer had to do with finishing stories, and submitting them. After clearing that bar, my next goal was far more difficult: getting that first story acceptance.
Reaching that milestone took longer than I hoped, though certainly not as long as what many writers have to endure. It really felt wonderful to break through, to finally be able to consider myself a published writer.
It took a while after that before I escalated my goals to anything significantly different. “Get published again… then again…” was my focus for a while. And of course I had the more distant goal of publishing a book some day.
I’ve often read interviews with writers further-along than myself saying they were so busy, they had transcended the slush pile. They had so many people asking them for stories, they no longer wrote anything “on spec,” and only worked to the requests of editors. This seemed to me like a really wonderful situation to have. Imagine, no longer having to live with the brutal cycle of diving into the slush pile, waiting months and months, only to almost inevitably be rejected.
This became my new goal: to become the kind of writer who was sought after at least enough to remain busy writing to invitations.
Somehow, without realizing the progress I was making, I’ve reached this goal. Lately, I’ve received enough invitations that I no longer have time available to write much else. In the past 5 months, I’ve received 4 invites, and another 3 in the 5 months before that. 7 invites in a 10 month period doesn’t quite max me out (I can complete roughly one story per month), but I consider this being “booked up” because I want to start working on longer material. If I want to dedicate at least 1/3 of my time to a couple novellas and a novel series, and I’m already this busy, with new invites coming faster all the time, I think the time has come to swear off the slush pile.
Invitations tend to be “hush hush” for at least a while, so I haven’t been able to crow about most of the possibilities that have recently come my way. I hope to have some more specific good news to report soon.